Paving the Way: Advances in Road-Building Techniques in Lancashire, 1770-1870

In considering the development of paving techniques, a case study of Lancashire, England, is highly instructive since, from the late eighteenth century, extensive road improvements took place in the county. This article provides that case study, focusing on the economic developments of that time (1770-1870) and how they were linked with the use of paving rather than of broken-stone techniques. The discussion is divided into three sections. The first considers the evidence for the use of broken stones in constructing Lancashire's roads before and during the McAdam era (1816-1861), demonstrating that varying techniques were adopted. The next section broadens the discussion to examine the county's paved roads, arguing that paving techniques associated with pebbles had long been used, but that a marked change occurred during the middle decades of the nineteenth century as the use of setts became widespread. The last section considers the reasons for this change, stressing not only the drawbacks of broken-stone roads, but also the advances in constructing paved roads. The author concludes that by the closing decades of the nineteenth century, setts had become the predominant paving material for the main roads in Lancashire's towns, their use value having by then been further enhanced in that they offered the most convenient means to fill the spaces between and at the sides of tramlines.


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  • Accession Number: 01001085
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Jun 21 2005 8:08AM